Recently, my small, wise 4 year old child achieved a milestone. He got a new scooter and he learned the art of balance. It was a little tiny jump into the deep end of life’s oceanic swimming pool. Not a life-changing moment, granted, but I captured it nonetheless on my camera for posterity.
This has become customary with every moment of note in the lives of my children, and the camera’s focus has sharpened increasingly since the loss of my mother 5 years ago. Let’s just say that the obligations of motherhood and the preservation of childhood memories have both become more poignant as a result of this loss.
In this Children in Need week, I have found myself thinking about life’s importances, about those children who have and those children who have not…… Taking in to consideration all of the ‘things’ we have at our disposal in our modern, relatively wealthy lives in the UK, it is perhaps significant that the moments we instinctively choose to capture, preserve and treasure tend to be the simplest ones of all.
I did not video the day the XBox joined the family, nor did I photograph the occasion when my sons defeated Darth Vader on said machine. But the day when we squealed with delight (as waves lapped our ankles) whilst catching crabs on the rocks in Pembrokeshire is a day we have preserved in both pictures and words in our family ‘vault’ for posterity.
Likewise the first day of school (every year) and the tadpoles rescued from a dried-up muddy pool by my sensitive older son; the kittens we fell in love with on a farm visit; that moment when my children first laid eyes on each other; the snowball fights and sledging in the dark…… all hold a special place in our hearts as part of the wonder of childhood, and all will endure in the memories of my children long after I am gone.
And here is the greatest irony of them all – that child in need that we watch on TV each November whilst our feelings of guilt and helplessness consume us, is a child who already understands the joy of a skimming stone or a mud pie. He may know of no world beyond those very same moments of simplicity which represent childhood and all its modesty, and he may even believe that happiness lies in the material things which we have. Yet here we are, modern parents with our gadget-mad offspring, seeking to return in numbers to those days of freedom and innocence from our own childhood where the best entertainment was free and summer days seems endless.
The difference is this – your child has someone to share these uncomplicated moments with. Because of you they take on a new resonance. Your child has someone who can capture and preserve the events which shape their life and mould their personality. Yet, do you?
Time has wings. The child you kiss goodnight tonight has no clue that she will soon be standing over the bed of her own daughter wondering how she got here. She will recall the days she spent making cakes and memories with you as she plans the same activity with her little ones. The memories are free, yet for her they will hold a pricelessness more than any treasured heirloom when she no longer has you. What a precious gift you could give by saving her life journey as a legacy for her future.
My mother’s life story is full of gaps that only she could have filled. What I wouldn’t give to have her fill in the blanks for me now.
Save a little something for your child today, just because you can. Determine to leave them with an understanding of who they are, how they got there and where they come from.
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